History Of The Old Mill
Mt. Upton, NY
The old stone structure, that is now the nucleus of The Old Mill had its inception in 1791, and has survived through five epochs of change:
Pioneer grist mill, cotton mill, woolen mill, abandoned ruin, and now a distinctive restaurant.
Authentic records reveal that Sullivan Reynolds, in 1791 moved his family by ox cart from what was then Sidney Plains into the Unadilla Valley. He was the second white man to settle there at a time when, for the previous 100 years, the valley had been regarded as the western boundary of the United States and the division between the white and Indian territory. Though the war had changed the boundaries, the valley was still a natural dividing line between the known and the wild unknown lands to the west.
Reynolds began building a grist mill and he, as well as others began building houses and clearing the land for farming. The small colony was obliged to halt operations to stage a big shooting offensive against bears that raided the settlement making it too dangerous to start farming. The Grist Mill was completed in 1792, and the grinding stones used in the mill were similar to the grinding stone, weighing about 1500 pounds, now located on the terrace of the restaurant.
In 1849, just when other men were joining the westward gold rush to California, Chester Rockwell moved westward from South Hartwick, where he had been associated with his father in the woolen business. He bought the cotton mill and it became known as Rockwell's Mills, a name also given to the township in which it still stands. Rockwell converted the former grist mill and cotton mill into a woolen mill.
During the Civil War he made uniforms for Union soldiers. He also added to the original small stone building and had a large payroll, which at one time included 100 people. After Rockwell died in 1891, his son, Allen Rockwell took over and operated it until 1907. During this time, the mill turned out uniforms for the soldiers in the Spanish-American War and also had large contracts form making uniforms for the inmates of New York State Prison.
The mill was abandoned from 1907 until 1946, slowly giving way to the gnawing forces of the element. It became so dilapidated that all additions were torn down in 1926, leaving nothing but the original stone structure.
In 1946, Rockwell MacPherson, grandson of Chester Rockwell, with his wife Betty, ushered the place into it's fifth stage by refurbishing it and making it into the restaurant it is today.
In 1964 Donaloio Brothers became the new owners and in 1981, ownership was passed on to the Ford family who are today carrying on The Old Mill tradition. With a never ending effort to good service and excellent cuisine, The Old Mill has gained a national reputation as a gracious dining place.
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